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Europe features countries of all shapes and sizes. Of course, everyone is familiar with Spain, France, Germany, and Italy, but what about the smaller countries in Europe? Here’s a quick guide to the five least populous European countries. For comparison, the University of Central Florida has an annual enrollment of about 69,000 students — which is greater than the population of four of these countries.
Andorra is a tiny landlocked country on the border between France and Spain in the Pyrenees Mountains. Due to the country's mountainous landscape, Andorra is a popular destination for skiers. It is the fifth least populated country in Europe, with a population of roughly 77,000.
Although it’s a separate country, many residents in Andorra are French, Spanish, or Portuguese nationals, and about 90% of the population lives within the capital city, Andorra la Vella. Since Andorra is so small, there are no customs and barely any taxes, which makes it a popular tourist destination.
Monaco is a small country located along the southeastern coast of France on the Mediterranean. The entire country has less than one square mile of land — which makes it smaller than Central Park! It’s the fourth least populated European country, with a population of 39,000. Due to its incredibly small size, however, it's also one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
Not only that, but many of its residents are extremely well-off. Monaco is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, per capita, with more than 12,000 millionaires living within its borders. Additionally, it has one of the highest GDPs per capita of any country. Although the cost of living in Monaco is high, the nation has maintained a zero percent poverty rate. Due to its wealth and infrastructure, Monaco is a popular travel destination for tourists in search of luxury.
Liechtenstein (not to be confused with Lichtenstein, Germany) is a small country landlocked between Switzerland and Austria in the rugged foothills of the Alps. Most of the country's 38,000 residents are considered rural — only 10% live in metropolitan areas. Despite its small size, minuscule population, and low-key status, Liechtenstein is quite an interesting place to visit. Among its many unique qualities:
- There’s no airport.
- It doesn’t have an army.
- It has one of the highest GDPs per capita of any country.
- It has almost no national debt.
- Its sole billionaire is worth half of the country’s GDP.
Even with its beautiful landscape and almost unmatched infrastructure, Liechtenstein is one of the least-visited countries in Europe, with fewer than 100,000 visitors each year.
Located on the eastern edge of central Italy is a small microstate called San Marino. The entire country is within Italian borders, which makes it an enclave, and the land is dominated by a massive limestone mass called Mount Titano. At the very top of the mountain is a medieval castle that overlooks the country and its 34,000 residents.
San Marino is almost entirely dependent on its Italian neighbor for resources, and almost 60% of its GDP comes from tourism. The second most important industry is agriculture. Grapes, wheat, and barley are cultivated on almost three-fourths of the country’s land.
The least populous and smallest European country is Vatican City. The entire city-state has only about 108 acres of land and 801 residents, including the pope. Nearly all permanent residents are priests or nuns. Although the city is entirely located within the city of Rome, Vatican City is technically an independent country. Vatican City is the headquarters for the Roman Catholic Church and contains many immense, elaborate, and historical buildings — most notably St. Peter’s Basilica. Almost the entire country’s income comes from worldwide donations to the Catholic Church.
Despite its small size, Vatican City still has its own post office, telephone system, radio station, banking system, pharmacy, and astronomical observatory. Tourism is another major industry in Vatican City. Visitors flock to the various buildings, museums, and cathedrals to view famous works of art from the Renaissance, which include the Sistine Chapel and its famous ceiling.